Constance McMillen, the
lesbian student who sued her Mississippi school board after officials
canceled the annual prom dance rather than allow her to attend with
her girlfriend, says she wept when she heard about the recent
spate of gay teens bullied to death.
The 18-year-old said she became
emotional after reading about the deaths of gay teens Seth Walsh and
Tyler Clementi. Walsh,
13, hanged himself to escaped taunts from classmates.
Rutgers University freshman Clementi jumped to his death after
learning that his roommate had secretly streamed online video of him
having sex with another man.
“I read it on Facebook,” McMillen
told the AP. “I was so upset about this that I could not sleep. I
knew it had to be terrible for them to choose death as a way to
escape what they were living in.”
McMillen, with the assistance of the
ACLU, sued her school district in March. Officials recently agreed
to pay the teen $35,000 in damages plus attorneys' fees and adopt a
policy prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“I went through a lot of harassment
and bullying after the lawsuit, and I realized how bad it felt being
in that position,” she said.
The teen added that her family's
support helped her get through the ordeal.